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Interview: Kazuyoshi Fukuba, Executive Director of Pony Canyon


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reanimator





PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 11:39 pm Reply with quote
Top Gun wrote:
Gotta love how neatly he tap-dances around the whole pricing issue. Japanese otaku may be perfectly willing to repeatedly bend themselves over a barrel, but the rest of the world isn't quite so delusional. AoA is bad enough, but at the very least they're putting out shows that people have, y'know, actually heard of. Good luck with this buddy.


Despite your contempt toward bonus materials, even licensees like Funimation and Sentai are doing collector/limited editions with bonus materials to appeal to fans.

You can deride Japanese Otaku and publishers all you want with your "must-fill-the-shelves" mentality. However, buying habit of Japanese otaku is one of the major influences of how typical anime is produced and sold. Obviously, your bargain-shopping, "must-fill-the-shelves" value is not compatible with what they're offering. And they're not super desperate for your money either. They prefer having customer loyalty from hardcore fans who'll buy their product at high price than fans who are too fickle and unreliable. That's their value discipline and it has not hurt their bottom line for years.

So if you don't get to buy those coveted discs of some hot anime title, does it mean that you can't enjoy anime? There are people out there who aren't mass collector like you, but enjoy anime in many different ways. Some people buy art books, some people buy toys and trinkets, and some people create costumes, and etc. Whatever it might be, they enjoy anime in their own ways. It's better to be happy with what you already have. If you can't, then you're just comparing yourself with others and expressing dissatisfaction by blaming others.
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Kadmos1



Joined: 08 May 2014
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 11:41 pm Reply with quote
ShanaFan852 wrote:
]The good thing is FUNimation stopped doing constant re-releases.


However, DBZ is likely the biggest offender in this if you count the amount of DVD/BD/VHS releases/re-releases that they have done.
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TarsTarkas



Joined: 20 Dec 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 11:44 pm Reply with quote
angelmcazares wrote:
I think that offering "Anime Legends" complete collections was one of the reasons Bandai Entertainment failed to meet their sales goals. People refused to buy singles from them because they waited patiently for cheap complete collections.

People were tired of buying singles, because they were tired of throwing money away on a series, which either didn’t sell the final volumes, or created shortages of the final volumes. Nothing worse than not being able to complete your series. You are not completely wrong, but there was more to the elimination of singles than the price point.
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CrowLia



Joined: 24 Feb 2012
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 11:50 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
Have either of you ever lost your job? Ever been unable to pay bills due to it, or dealt with the depression that can come from suddenly losing your job and having to find new work? Wishing someone/a company to go bankrupt and lose their jobs, and everyone working for the company, is just a mean and ignorant thing to wish for. I certainly am not a fan of their prices nor do I plan to pay them. I however would not wish them to all lose their jobs and go bankrupt, as opposed to simply wishing and hoping for more reasonable prices from them.


While I understand what you mean (and I certainly feel the pain of drowning in bills due to unemployemnt), I can't feel completely unsympathetic to the sentiment of wanting the company who's making this already niche market even more niche with their ridiculous greedy prices and pompous arrogance ("We can do it because we are PONYCAN", ugh). Intelectually, of course one wouldn't want the underpaid salarymen to get thrown to the streets, but I think the image of greedy giant Japanese corporation is more powerful than the sympathy for regular employees, especially because, were this business model to succeed, more companies may try to go this way (a very understandable concern given how PC is already copying AoA's extremely unpopular model)
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reanimator





PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2015 3:23 am Reply with quote
So Japanese company who put price on their niche product based from their financial standpoint is greedy? In that case, Western fans are totally spoiled by "subsidized" pricing offered by licensees like Funimation and Sentai when it's the Japanese fans who are pretty much alone that pays the most cost of the anime production.

People love to argue about how outrageous the price of Japanese price is, but do we consider things like:

1. Is there a reliable rough estimate of how many fans in the West buy licensed anime discs steadily?

2. Is number of disc-buying fans in the West growing, stagnant, or shrinking?


I know a lot of people don't like prices set by Japanese companies. Before labeling them as greedy pigs, can we even estimate how well licensed discs are selling in the states first? People watch latest shows from Japan without much problem and fans are enthusiastic at conventions and all, but does it mean that licensed anime discs in general are sold so well that we don't even need collectors edition?

Obviously Japanese companies are catering toward very specific customers and none of us are special snowflakes as we consider ourselves as.
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Madoka...AYUKAWA!



Joined: 14 Jan 2015
Posts: 158
PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2015 3:28 am Reply with quote
penguintruth wrote:
More corporate greed from anime companies. The animators make nothing, the fans pay through the nose, and the executives get to spend another week at the onsen. But if you're spending more than forty dollars for four episodes of a TV series, you're part of the problem.


This. But a lot naive kids (if not a kid, worst yet) will think they are "supporting the industry" well true in a way...in a very dirty, unhealthy, shameful, greedy way. That high ranking executive can now afford to have one more extra luxury apt and commode and extra lover, nice!
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mgosdin



Joined: 17 Jul 2011
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2015 7:40 am Reply with quote
reanimator wrote:
Despite your contempt toward bonus materials, even licensees like Funimation and Sentai are doing collector/limited editions with bonus materials to appeal to fans.

You can deride Japanese Otaku and publishers all you want with your "must-fill-the-shelves" mentality. However, buying habit of Japanese otaku is one of the major influences of how typical anime is produced and sold. Obviously, your bargain-shopping, "must-fill-the-shelves" value is not compatible with what they're offering. And they're not super desperate for your money either. They prefer having customer loyalty from hardcore fans who'll buy their product at high price than fans who are too fickle and unreliable. That's their value discipline and it has not hurt their bottom line for years.

So if you don't get to buy those coveted discs of some hot anime title, does it mean that you can't enjoy anime? There are people out there who aren't mass collector like you, but enjoy anime in many different ways. Some people buy art books, some people buy toys and trinkets, and some people create costumes, and etc. Whatever it might be, they enjoy anime in their own ways. It's better to be happy with what you already have. If you can't, then you're just comparing yourself with others and expressing dissatisfaction by blaming others.


I'm quite happy with what I have and I expect that I will remain happy for the foreseeable future.

My goal is not crowded shelves.

I just don't want to see what I believe to be a mistake occur.

What works in Japan does not always work in North America and the reverse is also true. It's been a costly lesson for business on both sides of the Pacific, repeatedly.

If you enjoy the deluxe sets then more power to you. But don't be surprised when others ask for something different.

Mark Gosdin
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mdo7



Joined: 23 May 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2015 9:42 am Reply with quote
mgosdin wrote:

I just don't want to see what I believe to be a mistake occur.

What works in Japan does not always work in North America and the reverse is also true. It's been a costly lesson for business on both sides of the Pacific, repeatedly.

If you enjoy the deluxe sets then more power to you. But don't be surprised when others ask for something different.


I share this same thought. I also agreed what work (or probably not) in Japan will not work in the US. I mean how can anime fans in the US can afford these titles if they're expensive (and over-priced). Now I'm not sure in Japan if anime blu-ray are doing well despite the tax hike Japan imposed late of last year.

I also listen to NHK World Radio Japan Focus last night on revitalizing anime exports and the broadcast never brought up price of the anime titles as an issue which really concern me in my opinion.
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Beatdigga



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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2015 11:18 am Reply with quote
It's like say...New York City real estate. You keep jacking up prices and flipping off any alternatives, you'll isolate all but the 1% super niche of otaku.
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Blood-
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2015 11:54 am Reply with quote
reanimator wrote:
So Japanese company who put price on their niche product based from their financial standpoint is greedy? In that case, Western fans are totally spoiled by "subsidized" pricing offered by licensees like Funimation and Sentai when it's the Japanese fans who are pretty much alone that pays the most cost of the anime production.


This is a very messed up way of looking at things. It is true that the otaku market drives anime production in Japan. If Japanese otaku didn't support the current pricing system there, one of two things would happen: a) anime producers would have to find a way to expand the appeal of their titles so they could attract a wider base of consumers willing to pay moderate prices; or b) only titles that have a shot of wide appeal would get made.

Western fans are a secondary market. We pump additional money into the Japanese anime production system through license fees and royalties. This is not chump change. And, of course, anime producers rightfully make their titles without considering for a second Western tastes and desires. Why should they? We aren't their primary market. And we shouldn't pay primary market prices, either. We are their gravy. Useful gravy that puts more money into their system than otherwise would be there.

I know, from several of your previous posts, that you are a knee-jerk "pay a ton!" apologist who simply can't fathom the concept that Western fans may not be thrilled to cough up $210 (or more) for a 12-13 episode show like our Japanese otaku comrades. The Western market also doesn't support $50 cookies or $10 paper clips. Yeah, we're just SOOOOO spoiled, I know. Rolling Eyes
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DmonHiro





PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2015 12:11 pm Reply with quote
Blood- wrote:
If Japanese otaku didn't support the current pricing system there, one of two things would happen: a) anime producers would have to find a way to expand the appeal of their titles so they could attract a wider base of consumers willing to pay moderate prices; or b) only titles that have a shot of wide appeal would get made.


Actually, no, neither of those things would happen because they have been proven to not work.
a) There have been several attempt at this, from both angles. The first angle was to try and create shows with much wider appeals. This worked, but the shows that are always in the top ratings don't actually SELL disks, they sell merchandise. Problem is that market is already almost completely served, so creating even more of those would solve nothing.

b) Again, does not work. The thing about Japan market is that it is almost completely non-flexible. Lowering the price does not attract more buyers beyond maybe the 1st volume. Making more shows does not increase the total people buying because that number is also pretty much fixed.
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Blood-
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2015 12:47 pm Reply with quote
@ DmonHiro - two things. First, your confident assertion that Japanese producers have tried to create shows with wider appeal as a direct attempt to circumvent the inelastic market problem is unprovable. So your next assertion that apparently this "wider appeal" initiative worked is equally unprovable. The only assertion of yours that could be proven or disproven is the one where you claim that shows that are always in the "top ratings" don't sell disks (and by top ratings, I assume you mean broadcast ratings). I have no idea if that claim is true, but I acknowledge that at least there is a way to determine if it is true or not.

Second, you seem to be conflating two separate issues when you say that my b) scenario wouldn't be in play. I have heard the claim that lowering prices for titles does not result in more buyers because the Japanese anime buying consumer market is supposedly inelastic. I'm not saying this claim is true, I'm just saying I've heard that said. But it doesn't matter if it is true or not because it actually has nothing to do with my original point. Which was - if Japanese otaku suddenly abandoned the "high price - low volume" pricing strategy that is currently in place, only two things could possibly happen: 1) producers would need to find a way to make the consumer market elastic (by creating shows with wide appeal) or 2) Fewer shows would get made (nobody is going to make a show that has zero chance of probability). I'm not saying the industry would completely collapse. Popular franchises like One Piece would still get made. Anything that seems marginal would not, ergo fewer titles getting made.
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Felis



Joined: 01 Dec 2012
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2015 12:55 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
We did actually get advice from Aniplex of America, and we exchanged information with the managers of Japan's Aniplex. I definitely think that was one of the triggers.

If they want to do premium releases, they should have asked NIS America for advice instead. I think NIS America releases are much nicer than Aniplex's (and a much better value).

If I'm going to get a premium release, I want a nice chipboard artbox and an artbook (not a cheaply made booklet). I have no use for a couple postcards or a small poster.

Quote:
We would like to bring high-quality animation that was produced in Japan to North American fans while keeping the quality intact as much as possible. We are having the Japanese production producer supervise the production of the American releases. This is quality that can be achieved because we are Pony Canyon.

Rolling Eyes
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Zalis116
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2015 1:51 pm Reply with quote
AbZeroNow wrote:
FUNImation using a horrid subtitle font on their blurays(and the whole Sankarea debacle with the broadcast masters)... he may have a point about PonyCan being extra motivated to get it right every time.
I don't think we can blame Funimation for the Japanese side giving them the wrong masters. For all we know, the "broadcast on disc" Sankarea version was exactly what "having the Japanese production producer supervise the production of the American releases" would've produced. And doesn't Funi use the exact same font on their Blu-Rays that they've been using on their DVDs for years with relatively few complaints? I guess white subs with black outlines in no-nonsense fonts are bad now...?

ShanaFan852 wrote:
The good thing is FUNimation stopped doing constant re-releases. If you at all remember a couple years ago, FUNimation would give a show a brand new release like every single year. A show could have the initial release, a complete set, a re-release, and then another re-release. Like Strike Witches S1 has FOUR different releases (First DVD, second DVD, DVD/BD combo, S.A.V.E.).

These days it's the initial release, and then you have to wait like two years before a complete set or re-release hits. It's RE/LE release, then straight to S.A.V.E. or Anime Classics. You have to be quite patient to wait that long to own the show if you're that cheap, so that's probably how they get away with it these days. No more cannibalizing the initial release like they used to (Sometimes the box set would hit the same year after the first release finished. Ex: School Rumble, the box set came out like 5 months after volume 6).
There's also Funimation's trend of releasing some things on DVD/BD combo first, but making the cheaper re-releases DVD-only. Eventually, they'll train consumers to buy the more expensive initial release, even if it's LE-only (ohaythere, BakaTest 2), if they want their HD anime.
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Fronzel



Joined: 11 Sep 2003
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2015 2:07 pm Reply with quote
Zalis116 wrote:
AbZeroNow wrote:
FUNImation using a horrid subtitle font on their blurays(and the whole Sankarea debacle with the broadcast masters)... he may have a point about PonyCan being extra motivated to get it right every time.
I don't think we can blame Funimation for the Japanese side giving them the wrong masters. For all we know, the "broadcast on disc" Sankarea version was exactly what "having the Japanese production producer supervise the production of the American releases" would've produced.

Whispers on the wind say sometimes Japanese companies sabotage foreign releases to prevent "reverse importation".
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